Monthly Archives: November 2013

In which Josh eats raw fish, welcome to Tokyo, Japan

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I was born in China, but I’ve also lived in Japan for a number of years. This was due to the fact that my parents got their PhD degree’s in Sanco, Japan.
And so at the tender age of three, young Jiaxi Wei was plucked from the familiar grasp of MOTHER CHINA and was suddenly dropped in to the foreign and strange lap of Japan.

But to be fair, I loved Japan. Like, A lot. Of all the countries that I’ve ever been to (which really isn’t that many), Japan is definitely the most beautiful. Regardless if you’re in the city or country side, in my experience no country is as clean and as good looking as Japan. People are genuinely nice here, like Canadian nice. It’s less of a factor that everyone is always happy go lucky and more because the Japanese culture puts incredible emphasis on being polite. If you ever ride the subway system in Tokyo, when a pregnant woman walks in to a Tokyo subway, there would suddenly be at least 10 empty seats on the car.
When I was 7, I had the opportunity to live in Tokyo with my pops. My experience in Tokyo was short-lived but wonderful, stuck in a cramped one bedroom studio with three people. But in all regards, Tokyo truly is an amazing city.

The capital of Japan, Tokyo is home to about 13 million people. The design of the city is quite unique, with 23 different “Wards” of the city. Each ward, acts almost like a city-state, partially self governing. I lived in the outskirts of Tokyo, what you Penn-staters might relate as someone saying they live “out-side of Philly.”
The city itself is well situated near the coast and is the economic center of most of Japan. Most of the city is home to merchant class, and walking through the city center you can see why Tokyo is known as the +Alpha World City. But there’s more to Tokyo than finance and money, to me Tokyo is an incredibly fun city.

For 7 year old Josh, Tokyo was a magical place that Dad might take you every other weekend to buy expensive gifts and eat crazy cheap street food. There is always something to do, whether it would be touring the city center to go to a karaoke bar with the family, it’s a hard case to be bored in Tokyo. 

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Shibuya Crossing

Starting with Shibuya, widely considered the Times Square of Tokyo directly in the financial district of downtown Tokyo. If your game plan includes shopping, Shibuya is the perfect place to start your Tokyo tour. Though it has to be said that Tokyo is one of the most expensive cites to live in, listed as the most expensive city in the world for expatriate employees.
As for me, I’m more interested in the local cuisine. You can obviously find first class dining in Tokyo from tastes all over the world. You can also find the best Japanese style seafood, caught and delivered at the world famous Tsukiji fish market. But for me, a city’s street food is what defines their culinary identity, and Tokyo does street food well. My favorite dish in the entire world is a simple Japanese street vendor food, Takoyaki. Small octopus filled pastry ball covered in fish flakes, Japanese mayonnaise and the works. Comparable only to Osaka, Tokyo food scene is vibrant and delicious. 

3Takoyaki Balls

After a long day of shopping and eating your heart out, the last thing you should know about Tokyo is that, it’s a very strange city. Weird and quirky, often even a little bit too weird, Tokyo is almost incomparable to American cities. 4From “Maid-Cafes” where young college age Japanese girls tend to a cafe style restaurant dressed completely in a french-maid costume (it’s so popular in Japan that you can almost thing of maid-cafes as the Starbucks in Japan), to Capsule Hotels where you can literally rent a hole in the wall, Tokyo is truly weird and wonderful.

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(Left – Maid cafe employee.
Right- Capsule Hotels)

A beautiful country, Japan does not disappoint its tourist. Clean, friendly and interesting, Tokyo is a perfect city to visit, just make sure you give yourself a budget when you do visit.

Next time we take a tour of my city, BaltimoreMaryland.

In which Josh goes back to his roots, Dalian, China

July 1st, 1995. A 7 pound baby boy was borned in the coastal city of Liaoning Province, China. It was here in this major sea port of northern China that one Jiaxi Wei made his debut in to this world.
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Dalian is my home city, and one that I am extremely proud of. Today, the city of Dalian is the financial, shipping and logistics center for Northeast Asia, not a bad role to play for a city, if I say so myself. And it’s no wonder why, located on the southernmost tip of the Liaodong Peninsula,  Dalian was the perfect seaport for trade between South Korea, Japan and South Asia. Economically stable and geographically sound, Dalian is  a cultural hotspot for locals and tourists alike. Speaking of tourism, this lovely seaport city is one of the three cities named “China’s best tourist city”, along with Hanzhou and Chengdu, recognizedby the National Tourism Association and the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

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Easily one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever lived in, from the bustling urban setting of downtown Dalian to one of it’s many gorgeous beaches, it is exceedingly difficult to be bored in this magnificent city.
Starting downtown, “Friendship Square” is a good starting point to examine the urban points of Dalian. Ever since I was a kid, downtown Dalian had always been bustling and alive. Neon signs lined the streets, and in places where traffic didn’t jam up, people would walk the streets window shopping or meeting up with friends. images (1)

It’s important to point out that the nightlife scenery in Asian is extremely different than in America. Walking down a busy road, it didn’t matter if you were a five star hotel or if you were just a local family mart, literally ever store in existence had its own flashing neon sign. It’s more than common to need sunglasses in the middle of the night if you were anywhere near the financial district in Dalian.Apart from city life, if you were looking more towards a relaxing getaway, Dalian has many of the highest rated beaches in China. Partially due to the fact the the district government puts more of an emphasis on tourism over many other things (for example education, which I’ve heard my parents complain about so many times in the past), Dalian’s tourism department go to extreme lengths to develop the beachfronts of Dalian. Some of the most famous beaches are Some of the most famous beaches are Tiger beach, Xinghai beach, Jinshitan beach and Fujiazhuang beach. 

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If you were to ask me one thing that I really miss about living in Dalian, the quickest and most honest answer I would have is, FOOD. Amazing culinaryimages (2) delights from across Asia, some of the most delicious (though acquired) street food you’ll ever see, and quite simply the best seafood in the world, there are obvious pro’s to being a wealth and diverse coastal city. With influences from Russia, Korea, Japan and the rest of China our food is incomparable. Regardless if you’re looking to sit down at a world famous restaurant or if you just simply wanted to spend a couple yuan’s at a less than sketchy street-side food vendor, we have everything to offer.

The next time you find yourself traveling through Asia, I implore you to visit one of the most beautiful and delicious cities you could ever find in China.